This year's report identifies those pollutants commonly found in industrial processes, whose health impacts are quantifiable, and traces their industry uses and health risks.
It goes on to list the top ten polluting sources/industries and offer solutions, highlighting opportunities to implement life-saving cleanup and pollution prevention efforts.
Most importantly, the new report attempts to quantify the true extent of pollution's threat by measuring the global health impacts of contaminated sites across 49 low and middle-income countries. This is the first time such a calculation has been made to measure pollution's toll on lives over such a wide area. The previous report began the effort by calculating the disease burden of individual contaminated sites.
Calculating Pollution's Toll in 17 Million DALYs
The impact of pollution is measured in Disability Adjusted Life Years, or DALYs, which capture the total number of life years lost from early death as well as any reduction in quality of life resulting from disease.
DALYs allow for comparisons to be drawn between different types of public health risks, taking into account both the severity and duration of a given disease. Chronic headaches for example are given a lower value in the DALY metric than more severe health outcomes such as blindness or cancer.
The report found that the public health impact of industrial pollutants, measured in DALYs, is the same or higher than some of the most dangerous diseases worldwide.
The report finds that exposure to contaminants at hazardous waste sites across the 49 countries analyzed results in more than 17 million DALYs.
By comparison, malaria results in some 14 million DALYs in the countries reviewed while tuberculosis results in some 25 million DALYs. These numbers are by no means conclusive but can be taken as indicative of the potential scale of the problem.Click through to the news release for a link to the report and other resources. The Star, in Toronto, has a story about the report also.